Developed by Hexacto
Ruffian Engine developed by Perola Valfridsson
Platform: PC CD-ROM/Palm/Pocket PC
Released - Out Now
Price : £19.99
not looking at a chess game in a while, we suddenly get to look
at two. Yesterday we looked at Fritz 8, a chess game that in many
ways has it all. However Hexacto have proved with Kasparov Chessmate
that there is still room for other titles. What if you're playing
a game on your PC and you have to go out? What if you could take
the game with you and carry on whilst you're on the train? Well
with Kasparov Chessmate you can do exactly that.
at just £19.99 Kasparov Chessmate will install onto your PC,
on a Pocket PC (2002) and on a Palm (OS 3.5+). This makes it an
excellent purchase, especially if you own one of these portable
devices too. Games can be transferred from your PC to your Palm
or Pocket PC (and vice versa) so if you are mid-game when you leave
your house or office you can carry on the game whilst you're on
your travels, which is an excellent idea.
playing Kasparov Chessmate for the first time you'll be asked to
create a profile. You are given a rating (a virtual FIDE rating)
of 1,200. You can also enter your MSN Game Zone name and password
here which will allow you to play online games on Zone.com.
You don't have to setup a profile as you can play as a guest. However,
setting up a profile will allow you to track your progress and see
if you're improving. You can have up to 8 profiles so that should
cover most chess playing household members. Once you've set up a
profile you have a choice of playing a Local game, Online game or
participating in the Kasparov Chess Club. The Local game gives you
a chance to play against either a human player (in hotseat mode)
or against a computer opponent. The AI opponents range from a rating
of 500 to 2,300 so there's an opponent here for virtually all chess
players. The Online game can be played either across a LAN or on
the MSN Game Zone.
heart of the single player game, and the main feature that makes
Kasparov Chessmate feel different compared to the other PC chess
titles, has to the Kasparov Chess Club. When you enter the Kasparov
Chess Club you have the choice of playing an exhibition game, against
a club member, taking part in the championship or reading the championship
rules. An exhibition game allows you to pick a game with any of
the club's members. In total the club has 45 members. These members
are rated either bronze, silver or gold. All of these players are
fictitious apart from Garry Kasparov. The club championship is where
you attempt to become the best player in the Kasparov Chess Club.
To do this you must win, in order, the Bronze cup, the Silver cup
and the Gold cup. This is no easy feat and suffice to say I still
haven't won the Bronze cup.
course the most important factor with a chess game is how the AI
plays and how well it scales against us mere mortals. With the Chessmaster
games the AI occasionally breaks down when it tries to simulate
players with a rank of less than 1,500. Fritz 8 on the other hand
has no problems at all with scaling it's AI but how does the Ruffian
engine (that Kasparov Chessmate uses) scale? Well it scales the
AI very well indeed. In fact it's quite impressive. Even the lowest
AI player, Neil, will give you a challenge and push you all the
way without resorting to stupid, self-defeating moves. The Ruffian
engine is impressive and I'm sure it will be used in many more chess
titles to come.
games in Kasparov Chessmate can either be played in Blitz (5,10,15
minute games), Rapid (30, 60 90 minute games) or Tournament/Classical
style (30 moves/30 minutes, 30 moves/60minutes, 40 moves/60 minutes,
60 moves/60 minutes and 60 moves/90 minutes). Allegro timing can
be enabled if you wish. This is where you are given a few seconds
back for each move in an effort to give you a small amount of extra
time at the end of a game. You can also play without a time limit
but your game will not be rated. You can use hints in a game (other
than a championship game) but doing so will cause your game not
to be rated. You can also undo moves but again doing so will mean
your game will not be rated.
addition to the aforementioned modes there is also a training mode.
The training mode offers basic instructions and rules as well as
tips on what to look for and traps that you should avoid. For the
advanced players there are also a series of problems for you to
solve. These are basically asking you to create checkmate in 2,
3, 4 and 5 moves which is no easy task. You don't have the encyclopaedic
database of either Fritz 8 or Chessmaster 9000 here but you can
study an impressive collection of famous Kasparov matches as well
as previous games that you've played (if you chose to save them
Kasparov Chessmate is probably best described as functional. There
are no exotic 3D boards on offer here but having said that, it has
the advantage of having low system requirements (a Pentium II 266MHz
and 64MB of RAM are all that's needed). The game uses a fixed screen
resolution of 800x600 but you can choose to run in a windowed mode
if your desktop screen resolution exceeds this. There are 3 chess
sets available. You have a choice of Staunton Black & White,
Rosewood Modern Set and a modern chess set that has a metallic finish.
You can choose between a 2D view and a pseudo 3D view and both look
OK and are fine to use. You can choose to use either Algebraic or
Chessmate causes no problems at all for deaf gamers. There is no
speech content at all in the game and all information is given in
text. The screens are laid out in a clean and uncluttered fashion
and the text is very easy on the eyes. The manual only contains
8 pages but it manages to explain all you need to know about the
Kasparov Chessmate can't claim to be the best Chess title out there,
it's certainly a good one and is one that I would buy. If you own
a Palm or Pocket PC then it offers even greater value. The ability
to synchronise games between your PC and PDA is a fantastic one.
Combine that with the fact that the Ruffian chess engine gives a
solid game of chess, which scales it's AI very well indeed, and
you have a chess game that's great value for money at only £19.99.
Game Rating: 8.2/10
Chessmate provides superb value at less than £20. You can
install it on a PC, Palm and Pocket PC and can synchronise games
between the systems so you can carry on playing on the move. Best
of all though is that the Ruffian chess engine makes a very good
No problems at all. All information is given in text only.